I grew up in the country. Real country. Cows, dirt roads, shotguns, and miles and miles of land.

Our nearest neighbor couldn’t drive a golf ball and hit our trailer.
Let’s get real. My neighbors didn’t play golf. They were too busy sighting in their rifles, shooting at beer bottles.

The nearest village was a 30-minute bike ride away.

The summer of ’85, my idiot friends lived in that town – Troy, Marc, George, Jammie.

Jammie was my first cousin. He was like the little brother I never had. He had buckteeth. He was Fangs.

Troy had dark skin. His ancestors lived there before Columbus “discovered” it. He had a mole on the side of his face the size of a dime. We called him Moley. If you weren’t from town and you called him Moley, you got knocked out. Troy was scrawny, but he could fight.

Marc didn’t have a dad. He was raised by his Catholic mom and three spinster aunts. Marc had slanted eyes. Marc’s biological dad might have been Asian. We called him China.

George was Moley’s first cousin. He unknowingly had an allergy to cats. Everyone had cats. His nose was always stuffed up, so he got stuck with Snuff.

And there was me.
My Christian name is Richard.
Little boys loved to scream out “Dick.” It makes ‘em feel grown-up.

Fangs, Moley, Snuff, China, and Dick.
We were idiot friends who hung out and played sports.
Others on our team were Turkey, Fat Head, Seabass, Moose, Hotlips, Mouse, and Woody.

We kept the team together for 20 years. One idiot was replaced with another with time– Banjo, Hollywood, Moth, Big Daddy, Crazy Legs, and Cookie.

Idiot friends calling each other idiot names.

If you were offended, you got picked on. You took the nickname and wore it like a badge of honor.
You were one of the boys. You belonged.
No one wants their real name in a comic book.
And neither did we.

Others in the tribe were: Weasel, Pigeon, Polecat, Jughead, Chic, Boobie, Crane, and Splinter.

In the world of a Whatsit.
James, John, Joey will not fit.
Your name in the town.
Must be fun like a clown.
Yet fit like a gown.
Not to make you frown.
You will be put down.
In a town of 387, no one gets the crown.

In our town, we branded each other with goofy nicknames.
Regardless of where you live, each person is a brand, regardless of their name.

Karen Post wrote in Brain Tattoos, “A brand is a story embedded in the mind of the market”.

If an idiot friend has a story about you, you’re a brand.
The strength of the brand depends on the strength of the story.

The stories about our childhood, our friends, and the crazy antics we pulled all contribute to our individual brands.

Moley almost killed himself as he surfed on the roof of his Chrysler Lebaron. China was driving it down Main Street and swerved to miss a cat.
One idiot friend drove his 1967 Dodge Charger off the wharf into the Gaspereaux river. His car looked just like the General Lee. He had 01 on the doors and the Confederate flag on the roof. He was watching the Dukes of Hazzard on a Friday night. After too much beer, another idiot friend bet him $100 he couldn’t jump the river with his car. The Gaspereaux was 400 feet wide. The General now sleeps with the fishes.

Storytelling has become the “flavour o’ the day” for marketers.

They use origin stories to tell customers how far the business has grown from its humble beginnings.
That’s not storytelling.
That’s nostalgia.
And maybe bragging…

The origin story is not where customers get attracted to your company.
Your origin story has a little girl (or boy) who grew up and built a company.
How did she get here?
What caused her to take that first big risk?
When did things change?
And what is the little girl scared of today?

Simon Sinek suggests the origin story is your “Why.” Your purpose. The things you do today are because of who you were in your past.

The real story is not who you WERE.
It’s who you ARE. It’s what you’re against.
It’s what you believe in. It’s what you will not tolerate.

The story IS NOT a straight line. That would be too perfect.
Perfect is fine for Fairy Tales and Hallmark movies.
Perfect is predictable…and boring…and unbelievable.

Your story shouldn’t be perfect.
You’ve seen one Hallmark movie; you’ve seen ‘em all.
You don’t want to be a Hallmark movie, do you?

Imperfection lures the audience.
The things that shouldn’t have been but somehow are, give the audience hope their lives are going to be ok.

Stories are shared because of the stupidity, the crazy, and the remarkable.
They’re memorable, cherished, and shareable because of imperfection.

A good ad writer creates attraction to imperfection.

None of us live in our little town anymore.
Fangs is divorced with 4 kids and twin grandkids on the way.
Troy doesn’t go by Moley anymore. His new idiot friends call him T-Bag.
Snuff is a recovering alcoholic. He’s been sober for five years.
China is in the oil business. Capital “R” – Rich.
And Dick is 40 pounds overweight, insecure, impatient, and in love with his wife of 24 years.
Nobody calls him Dick, except his idiot friends and his idiot son – Big D.

My idiot friends branded with idiot names.
It wasn’t the idiot names that made the brands.
It was the memories we created for those who were there.
We were a perfect imperfect bunch of idiots.

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